Guest Blog by Gravel & Sugar – 6 Hacks for creating better video content with your phone

Guest Blog by Gravel & Sugar – 6 Hacks for creating better video content with your phone

Video is taking over the internet. From social media to Netflix, online video is everywhere. In 2015, online video already accounted for 68% of all consumer internet traffic. By 2020, this figure is expected to rise to 82%. In fact, looking through online statistics to write this blog post it’s hard to find any indicator that doesn’t point to explosive growth.

This is a massive opportunity for businesses that know how to use video to their advantage, and with smartphones making it easier than ever before to shoot, edit and publish video online there’s no reason not to get involved. Working at Gravel and Sugar Productions making a video for social media is a big part of my job, and based on that experience here are my top tips for doing it yourself.

  1. Film with your phone horizontal not vertical

First and foremost! There is a special place in hell for all those who film with their phones vertical rather than horizontal – wide black bars push in from each side and squeeze them for eternity. Do not join them down there!

This video says it best

  1. Plan

This might seem obvious, but plan what you are going to film before you film it. Firstly, that means answering really basic questions:

  • Who is your audience? What do you want them to take away from your film?
  • How long do you want your video to be (hint – short, 1-2 min!)
  • What shots you will use in your film, and who will be saying what? It’s always good to go into a shoot with a basic script or even a storyboard (don’t worry if you can’t draw – basic shapes and stick figures is all you need). Make sure you get a variety of product shots and close-up interview shots (close-ups work well on phone) but don’t forget about cutaways either! If you had a food business this could mean a nice outdoors shot of your premises, some footage of chefs hard at work, and possibly some footage of the ingredients you use nicely laid out.

Have a look at some of our promo videos to see all kinds of things are possible in a couple of minutes!

  1. Know Your Social Media!


Different social media platforms have different user demographics and are tailored to different kinds of content. For example, Snapchat has a very young user-base and is very focused towards visual media whilst Twitter has an older and more male audience. To get seen as widely as possible it’s best to upload video as ‘native content’ (i.e. directly to the social media platform, rather than embedding a video from youtube). Also, keep in mind that different platforms have different cut-off points for the length of a video they accept – Twitter only takes videos up to 2min 20 seconds, don’t get caught out because your awesome 3-minute film won’t fit!

Here’s a handy guide to video on different social media platforms

  1. Be prepared for Lots of Takes

You don’t need to be a pro, but you do need to be prepared to repeat things until it looks right. Shaky hands as you were filming that product shot… another take. Someone walked through the background annoyingly… go again! This is especially important when anybody is talking to the camera. Talking to a camera is hard and nerve-wracking if you’re not used to it. Most non-professionals will get better with multiple takes as they relax and become familiar with the lines – even up to 10 or 15 takes is not unusual. This post from the folks at Wistia is a great resource for a more in-depth read.

  1. Get the Gear (on a Budget)

Smartphones mean there is no need to spend a penny making your online video. But if you are looking to regularly produce online content there are a few inexpensive purchases that will make a big difference to your quality. The number one must have is a tripod, these can be super cheap, and if you want a cheap way to attach your phone to a tripod you can use the mount from a selfie stick. Other handy purchases are a clip-on light and maybe a microphone – and that’s pretty much it, some of the most watched YouTube channels in the world are made with nothing more than this.

  1. Hire a Professional (shameless plug)

With a bit of time and thought it is possible to produce great online video content for your business with nothing but the smartphone in your pocket. However, to achieve the best results online video needs to form part of a comprehensive communications strategy, ideally provided by a professional PR consultancy like Bird. Similarly, making videos is a job so if you aren’t looking to take the dive into in-house production, consider getting in touch with a production company like Gravel & Sugar, where we have knowledge and experience producing online content for dozens of businesses around the North West.

Useful apps:

Kinemaster (Android)
Open Camera (Android)
iMovie (iOS)



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